After Covid infections forced the premiere and subsequent performances to be cancelled, Monday 21 December will finally see the opening night of La Scala’s new production of Rudolf Nureyev‘s La Bayadère.
When Frederick Ashton succeeded Dame Ninette de Valois as Director of the Royal Ballet in 1963, he asked Nureyev to work on his first choreography: restaging Act III of La Bayadère. Nureyev was dancing the role of Solor in Act III with the Kirov Ballet on tour in Paris, which was shortly before he defected to the West in 1961. However, he didn’t stage the full version until the very end of his life when, in 1992, he created the production that, until now, has only been danced by the Paris Opera Ballet. Nureyev died on 6 January 1993 at the age of 54, just three months after the premiere.
Former Paris Opera Ballet étoile, Manuel Legris danced in Nureyev’s La Bayadère many times and now, as head of La Scala Ballet, has brought it into the repertoire in Milan. The sumptuous designs in Paris by Ezio Frigerio (sets) and Franca Squarciapino (costumes) have been replaced with new designs by Luisa Spinatelli.